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Shore Medical launches Alzheimer's center Shore Medical launches new Alzheimer's disease center

Press of Atlantic City - 2/17/2017

SOMERS POINT - Patients and their families can get more access to Alzheimer's disease treatment and education through a new program at Shore Medical Center.

The hospital kickstarted the Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Center on Thursday with $500,000 in funding from the Ocean City Masonic Lodge 171. Experts say as Alzheimer's and dementia diagnoses continue to grow across the country, more specialized care and support services are needed locally.

"There's been a gap in service for the community for a very long time," said Ron Johnson, Shore president and CEO. "This is only the beginning of our service, where we can help patients and caregivers in the community."

The center will provide patients with education, resources, treatment and diagnostic tools for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Center programs are operating now, and Shore officials said they expect the infrastructure to be completed within the hospital in the next few months.

The program will offer more cognitive neuroscience resources, faster plans for diagnosis and treatment, guidance for specialized medications, counseling, community outreach and education for patients and caregivers, officials said.

"This is not an individual disease. It impacts the entire family structure," said Dr. David Roeltgen, neurologist and director of the new center.

Roeltgen said the center plans to partake in Alzheimer's clinical trials and get patients into programs with trial medications. Shore officials said they plan to use insurance reimbursements and money from patient participation in trials to sustain and build center programs and services.

Alzheimer's disease became one of the fastest-growing causes of death among Americans in recent years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in December that life expectancy for the U.S. population decreased for the first time since 1993. Explanation for the drop included increases in death rates among eight out of 10 leading causes of death.

Alzheimer's disease saw an increase of more than 15 percent from 2014 to 2015, the report showed.

The Alzheimer's Association predicts about 170,000 people in New Jersey will be living with the disease this year. That number is expected to jump to 210,000 people in 2025, according to the association.

Roeltgen said the medical community is still seeing Alzheimer's disease patients live longer, thanks to better diagnosis and treatment, but it still remains an incurable and fatal disease. Family members often become caregivers for their loved ones, and the job can be difficult without community help, he said.

Roeltgen said the center will look to hire a geriatric psychiatrist to help treat patients and prescribe medications specific for Alzheimer's disease and dementia patients, as well as a geriatric social worker to help assist family members and caregivers.

The Ocean City Masonic Lodge was able to present the donation to the hospital after receiving a gift from Flora and Benjamin Baker, posthumously, of Ocean City. The couple owned and operated hotels in the shore town and had made donations to the hospital in the past.

David Hughes, Shore CFO, said he expects the center to treat and help not just residents of Atlantic County, but anyone in South Jersey looking for specialized care for Alzheimer's disease and related disorders.

Contact:609-272-7022 Twitter @ACPressNLeonard


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